While I might only be a basketball fan during this month (note: I’ve got Duke going all the way), many wish kids are true fans of the sport and follow it religiously. They’re able to feel like a normal kid again when watching or playing the sport, something that is an important part of the healing process.
17-year-old Thiago loved watching his favorite team, The Miami Heat, and it’s star player, LeBron James, play basketball while he was sick. As a survivor, he still cheers on the Heat. When it came time for him to choose his wish, he knew that he wanted to celebrate his life with his favorite team and player. Wearing a Miami Heat jersey customized with his name, he took to the court and practiced with the team, including James. Cameras from ESPN captured Thiago’s whole day, including him setting up some dunk opportunities for James. Following his wish, Thiago was at a loss for words, only able to summarize how his day had been by saying, “There are no words to describe this wish. The experience was unreal.”
Noah, a 14-year-old who also suffers from cancer, is a huge NBA fan. He has several favorite players and longed to see them all in person. This dream became possible when he wished to attend the NBA all-star game. Set up in his own private viewing box, Noah was able to enjoy the game and forget all about doctors, treatments and hospitals for a little while, immersing himself in the game and cheering on his favorite players.
Basketball is far from being a “boys only” sport. Lorelei, a 17-year-old suffering from cancer, considers the players of the Oklahoma City Thunder to be family to her following coaching the team as part of her wish. The cherry on top was being able to return to the team a few months later, where she shared with the players that her cancer had entered the remission stage. The team celebrated with her, just like a family would.
Brackets, bets and watching the games this month will be fun, but I for one will be thinking about all of the wish kids who are watching, just like me, and experiencing feeling like a normal kid again for what might be the first time in a long time.